HLD, v. 31, n. 4 (April 2003)
New York Appeals Court Holds Guidelines On Office-Based Surgery
Are Null And Void
The New York Commissioner of Health and others (defendants)
created an ad hoc Committee on Quality Assurance in Office-based Surgery to
establish standards of care for surgeries performed in private offices. The
committee issued "The Clinical Guidelines for Office-based Surgery"
(Guidelines) which established a code of conduct for procedures in private
offices of healthcare practitioners. The New York State Association of Nurse
Anesthetists (plaintiff) a non-profit corporation representing certified
registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) brought an action against defendants in a
New York trial court seeking a declaration that the Guidelines were null and
void. Defendants moved to dismiss the action, and the court converted the
motion to a motion for summary judgment and granted summary judgment to
plaintiff on the grounds that defendants lacked the authority to issue the
Guidelines. The court issued a permanent injunction barring defendants from
enforcing the Guidelines, and defendants appealed.
The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third
Department, affirmed the trial court's judgment. As an initial matter, the
appeals court had to determine if plaintiff had established that it had
standing by demonstrating that the Guidelines had a harmful effect on at least
one member of the organization, and that the interests plaintiff claimed to
protect were important to the purpose of the organization. Defendants argued
that plaintiff had failed to show that any individual member had standing to
bring the action. To establish standing, said the appeals court, a party must
show it suffered an "injury in fact" and the injury was within the zone of
interest that is protected by statute. Finding flawed defendants' argument that
plaintiff's members' economic injuries did not fall within the scope of
interests to be protected by the Guidelines, the appeals court found plaintiff
challenged the Guidelines' infringement on the ability of its members to pursue
their profession pursuant to N.Y. Educ.
Law �� 6901 and 6902. The appeals court determined that plaintiff's
members were in a class of protected individuals under the Education Law and
the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the state and federal
constitutions, and had stated an injury sufficient to confer standing.
Rejecting defendants' argument that the Guidelines were recommendations rather
than regulations, the appeals court held that there was sufficient evidence to
support the conclusion that defendants were clearly intending to create a
uniform code of conduct. Agreeing with the lower court that defendants had
acted contrary to an express legislative mandate, the appeals court held that
the Guidelines were illegal. Accordingly, the appeals court affirmed the lower
court's judgment that the Guidelines were null and void.
New York State Ass'n of Nurse Anesthetists v. Novello, No.
91448, 2003 WL 31957888 (N.Y. App. Div. Jan. 23, 2003) (3 pages).